Aircraft

Dubai police to fly multirotor hoverbikes: What could possibly go wrong?

Dubai police to fly multirotor...
Dubai Police are making plans for a drone division that will use manned and unmanned airframes for a variety of policing purposes
Dubai Police are making plans for a drone division that will use manned and unmanned airframes for a variety of policing purposes
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Dubai Police are set to test prototype hoverbikes
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Dubai Police are set to test prototype hoverbikes
Dubai Police are making plans for a drone division that will use manned and unmanned airframes for a variety of policing purposes
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Dubai Police are making plans for a drone division that will use manned and unmanned airframes for a variety of policing purposes
Under electric power, the Hoversurf can fly a pilot at up to 70 km/h (43 mph) with a programmed maximum height of 5 meters (16 ft)
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Under electric power, the Hoversurf can fly a pilot at up to 70 km/h (43 mph) with a programmed maximum height of 5 meters (16 ft)
The hoverbikes in question are a Russian design – the Hoversurf Scorpion 3
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The hoverbikes in question are a Russian design – the Hoversurf Scorpion 3

The magical kingdom of Dubai continues to cement its dual reputations as both the world's most future-forward city, and the most desperate for attention, with the announcement that it plans to add quadcopter-style hoverbikes to its police fleet.

The police hoverbike was announced at GITEX, the biggest technology expo in the gulf region. Under electric power, it can fly a pilot at up to 70 km/h (43 mph) with a programmed maximum height of 5 meters (16 ft). It'll also fly unmanned with a top speed closer to 100 km/h. Range is in the 20-25 minute area, with recharge times around 3 hours – but batteries are swappable to keep these things in the air if necessary.

Let's make no bones about this; this is 100 percent a publicity stunt, and probably quite a dangerous one. The hoverbikes in question are a Russian design that we've covered before, the Hoversurf Scorpion 3.

Dubai Police are set to test prototype hoverbikes
Dubai Police are set to test prototype hoverbikes

You can read our full opinion on this airframe here. Suffice to say, at the time, we recommended the Scorpion mainly for "aspiring amputees" due to the close proximity between spinning blades and fleshy legs, but that's far from the biggest safety issue here. There's a big difference between being risk-taking aviation pioneers like the Hoversurf team, and deploying a barely-stable early prototype into uncontrolled, public, urban airspace.

In most countries, it's currently illegal to fly sub-2kg consumer grade camera drones like the DJI Mavic over a crowd, because the fact is they sometimes drop out of the sky, and 2 kilograms with fast spinning blades is already a huge liability if it lands on somebody's head from any kind of height.

The idea of flying these hoverbikes, in the embryonic state this tech is in, with their max flight load of 300 kilograms and two-foot spinning propellers, over traffic or anywhere near people for fast response crime fighting … It's so vastly irresponsible that it's hard to believe a police force would have anything to do with it.

In an interview at GITEX with Gulf News, a Dubai Police representative pointed out that the initial deal is for prototype hoverbikes for further testing, with the department making plans for a drone division that will use manned and unmanned airframes for a variety of policing purposes.

I suspect we'll see some more very public demo flights around Dubai, over roped-off areas, and then these things will go in the same dusty shed as the firefighting jetpacks we've heard so little about since their launch back in January. Then the people that take these kinds of vehicles seriously can get on with the job of developing them into safe, reliable and realistic transport options, while Dubai pounces upon the next piece of ostentatious, out-there tech to flash about way before it's ready.

Here's some video of the Hoversurf Scorpion in flight, in its Dubai Police livery.

Dubai police hoverbike!

15 comments
Martin-tu
One word: Insane.
Captain Danger
Blah Blah Blah Safety Blah Blah Blah Amputation Blah Blah Blah Crash All I see is Awesome! I want one.
Stickmaker
So that's what happened to the first Stig...
Rustin Lee Haase
This shows the crazy priorities of Dubai culture. Human life is cheap and there's lots of money for extreme gadgets. It might be a great place to live if you've got lots of money and don't care about the kind of fun you can have in Las Vegas. Not for me on both counts. :-) Still, the more sane rest of the world can learn from their mistakes and achievements and copy them when things work out well and not so when their new risky ideas don't work out. Dubais like to be the fist to do everything, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
Daishi
I love the supercar, Rolls Royce, and Mercedes and the background. Dubai is like what would happen if every member of a city (including public officials) won the lottery. They are sitting around going "How are we going to find a way to spend our budget this year?" "I've got it Lets deploy a squad of police on hoverbikes attached to the roofs of Bugatti's!" Dubai is an amusing spectacle for sure.
ei3io
A knee annihilator, thigh stump initiator, or pilot immolator?
hkmk23
Someone in the Dubai gov has been done for speeding...this is simply payback for being pulled over!
StWils
Hand these things over to the guys with the right stuff. The guys who have challenged Darwin and repeatedly crashed their crotches onto steel railings or fallen onto concrete from heights and at speeds that only causes significant abrasions, contusions and broken bones. These are the ideal users. And they are sure to be willing to trade up from skateboards to something less safe, more poorly engineered than a mere skateboard as well as far more expensive. Not that there is any question that Darwin right, just that these are the folks ready to do the heavy lifting.
Anne Ominous
I think among the biggest hazards is the fact that there are only 4 rotors. Fine for a model-sized drone. Not so fine for a manned vehicle. If one rotor goes out, the other three cannot stabilize the vehicle. The whole thing will go down. And a 200-foot fall is generally a lot more debilitating than simply whacking off a leg. If you get my drift.
KaiserPingo
Who needs legs ??? Perfect tool for crowd-controle and decapitating a street filled with protesters.